Ponder the following…
“Are we doing what is best for our students,
or are we doing what is most convenient for us?”
There are many things to consider regarding this question, originally asked by Dr. Scott McLeod on his Dangerously Irrelevant blog, in May 2007. So, it’s important to truly think about the infinite variables that contribute to teaching students and take some time to ponder. After ample pondering, it is time to proclaim our thoughts and put them to practice!
Hundreds of visions, ideas, memories, and tidbits of information circle in my mind, as I ponder this question. I ask myself a series of short secondary questions to help me gather my thoughts and proclaim my answer to this question. Why do we do what we do when we teach? The quick answers I come up with is tradition and history. Then, I think about the change I have experienced as a student. And I ask myself , am I a different student than I was 15, 20 or 30 years ago? The quick and short answer is YES! Lastly, I think of one more, slightly longer, two-part question. a) What changes will my kids see in the next 15 years and b) how does that compare with the changes my parents saw as they went from elementary to junior high and on to high school? a)Major changes. b) Major difference.
In corralling all the thoughts circling in my mind, I think the word convenient is really quite tied to tradition and history. Any teacher that truly has the students’ best interest in mind would be happy to forgo some convenience, if the extra work and effort resulted in, more engaged, better prepared and more successful students. So, I feel many teachers simply continue on the path laid before us. It was the way our parents were taught and the way their parents were taught. So, why reinvent the wheel? Another question for later!
Next, I ponder from my point of view as a student. Overall, I feel some of my teachers, over the years, were making efforts to step away from what is safe, traditional and convenient. However, not every teacher was ready or willing to let go of tradition and that is still true today. This effort should not be looked at as saying goodbye to traditional, safe and convenient; but instead it should be an approach to integrate technology and 21st century thinking into every teachers’ current framework. This should be a continual process over each teachers’ career.
Lastly, it really is all about the changes occurring around us and the need for education to keep up or at least try to catch up with these changes. The changes in technology seen by my parents will be only a tiny percent of the changes my children will see. So, now is not time to reinvent the wheel, but instead to make modifications to the wheel to function better in the changing world around us. More specifically, this does not necessarily mean every student must have every new educational gadget at their disposal. But instead, every teacher today should make clear and substantial efforts to integrate technology into their own classroom.
It is true a mixture of many variables must be considered when answering “Are we doing what is best for our students, or are we doing what is most convenient for us?” In conclusion, I think it is safe to say YES! we are doing what is best for our students and not doing what is most convenient for us, IF we follow these three general criteria: 1–understand our traditional, safe and convenient methods are not necessarily bad and can be our framework, 2– integrating technology and 21st century thinking should be a continual process over each teachers’ career and 3–we are truly testing and practicing our ideas in our own classrooms today, embracing change and continuing to reevaluate our methods.